This Saturday, December 16, marks the 237th anniversary of the birth of Jane Austen. The author of masterpieces such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, Austen has a devoted set of fans worldwide who celebrate her life and her writings. These Jane-ites, as they are sometimes called, like to gather to discuss not only Jane Austen’s body of work but the society at that time in England, the customs, the culture and all things related to the Regency period that Jane Austen wrote about.
The Louisville area is no different.
This past weekend, the Louisville area arm of JASNA (Jane Austen Society in North America) held their Christmas tea and made their annual birthday toast to Jane Austen.
The event did not disappoint.
I am a member of the Greater Louisville chapter of JASNA and I guess you could say I am more of an amateur member. I have read only a few of Jane Austen’s books and admit that my main interest mostly stems from viewing the movies based upon her works and the PBS adaptations. I will own up to having a mad literary crush on Mr. Darcy and most of the actors who have portrayed him on film. (What am I? Made of stone???). I do not have a deep knowledge of the Regency period nor do I have any of the period clothing pieces that members of JASNA like to wear to the monthly meetings and for the annual Jane Austen Festival in July.
However, none of this seems to matter at the monthly meetings. I always have fun and always learn something, whether it is about the fashion of Austen’s time, the common medical practices or even the daily life of soldiers.
At the Christmas tea at the monthly meeting this past Sunday, the national president of JASNA, Iris Lutz, gave a presentation, “Houses in Jane Austen’s Life and Fiction.” There was also harp music, period-inspired Christmas decorations and a buffet of sweet and savory items as well as an assortment of teas. (FYI, the tea is served out of real china teacups with matching saucers. The beauty and uniqueness of each teacup is almost my favorite part of each meeting. I am not ashamed to admit this.)
I renewed my membership at the December meeting and look forward to 2013, with its focus on Pride and Prejudice. More Mr. Darcy? I can get on board with that.
The Greater Louisville chapter of JASNA is one of the most active chapters, hosting an annual festival each July and will host the national general meeting of JASNA in 2015. Their meetings are held monthly at historic Locust Grove.
Photos courtesy of Cynthia Bard Mayes.